Weekend project: Amid the whirl of food-related tasks for Thanksgiving, set aside a few minutes to think about the winter holidays. If you start this weekend, you could be gifting your friends with home-bottled vanilla. Melissa at the Traveler’s Lunchbox started her project when, after ordering a big batch of inexpensive vanilla beans, she realized that she had a new problem: “a growing pile of used beans that were still far too fragrant to throw away.”

With just spent vanilla beans, two bottles of rum, bourbon, or other booze, along with two bottles of store-bought vanilla extract (one is to use while your homemade vanilla is maturing) and six weeks of time, you’ll have smooth, fragrant vanilla to decant into beautiful bottles.

But what if your friends are more chocolate-oriented than vanilla-oriented? Layered cocoa in a jar can be a simple and elegant gift. Don’t forget the homemade marshmallows!

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